Kansas has been kind to Danica Patrick.
In 2005, she became the second female driver to win a pole at an IndyCar event at Kansas Speedway.
Saturday, she ran seventh at the 5-Hour Energy 400 under the lights, Patrick’s best finish in a Sprint Cup event.
Patrick had a fourth-place finish in a Nationwide event in Las Vegas.
Saturday marked her 57th career Sprint Cup start and her first top 10 finish of the year. Her best had been 14th at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Her career best Cup finish was eighth at Daytona last year.
Patrick started ninth on Saturday and remained in the front pack throughout the evening, Patrick started ninth on Saturday and remained in the front pack throughout the evening. She said her greatest accomplishment was passing Jimmie Johnson on a late restart.
“That was probably my most rewarding thing of the night,” Patrick said. “I say that with all the respect in the world. It’s a big deal because it’s Jimmie Johnson. I was really just overall proud that we stayed up front all day.”
Patrick also won praise from Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick, who finished second.
“I guess the one thing I did tell her was the quit thinking and smash the gas,” Harvick said. “Sometimes your car is never going to be perfect, and you have just to take what it’ll give you and expect that every time you pit it’s going to be better. If it’s not you adjust and move on.”Jordy Nelson drives pace car
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson prepared for his role as driver of the honorary pace car for Saturday’s 5-hour Energy 400 by taking part in the Richard Petty Experience and watching the movie “Cars.”
“I brought my son here,” Nelson said of 4-year-old Royal. “He loves ‘Cars.’ We watched the video this morning, and it had Richard Petty on it, and he recognized the voice from the King on the car.”
Nelson, a former Kansas State star, spent part of Saturday checking out the NFL Draft. Nelson, who was a second-round pick of the Packers in 2008, was happy with Green Bay’s haul, especially cornerback Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama in the first round and wide receiver Davante Adams of Fresno State in the second.
“That’s been their bread and butter, to get second-round receivers,” Nelson said. “It’s the fourth one in the last seven years. They drafted Randall Cobb in the second round a couple of years ago. I was a second. Greg Jennings was a second. James Jones was a third. We’ve done well in that range and hopefully it continues.”
Nelson said he took a tour of Kansas Speedway while in high school in 2002, but Saturday marked his first NASCAR race.
“When a cool opportunity like this comes up, you take advantage of it,” he said. “Being back in Kansas is great, and getting to do this is a once in a lifetime. I look forward to meeting some of the drivers and hanging out.”K-State’s Weber makes pit stop
Bruce Weber has driven by Kansas Speedway numerous times over his two years as Kansas State’s basketball coach, but Saturday was the first time he’d visited the facility.
“This is an amazing event,” Weber said. “I guess I can compare it to the Final Four with all the media and attention and people and all the logistics involved. We went through the garage, and the technology involved the crews, it is definitely a team sport because they need everyone to do their part.”
Weber was excited to meet Nelson.
“I’m a Packer fan, I’m from Wisconsin,” Weber said. “I know (of) him, but I hadn’t had a chance to meet him.”Big event draws Warren Moon
Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon, who finished his NFL career with the Chiefs, attended Saturday’s race.
“I’m a fan of big events,” Moon said. “I was at the Kentucky Derby last week. I don’t go to races, but I like to go to big events. I had an opportunity to come to this, so I said I was going to come.”Fuqua headlines Lakeside winners
Darron Fuqua led only the last 200 feet of the 25-lap USRA A-Modified feature on Friday night at Lakeside Speedway, but that was enough to beat Nic Bidinger to the checkered flag.
In other races, Chad Clancy won his first USRA B-Modified feature; former champion Justin Seifert won the 15-lap USRA Stock Car feature; and Gary Donaldson posted his second win of the season in the 15-lap Grand National division.